President Biden’s inauguration could not feature grand galas or star-studded balls across downtown Washington, in a nod to the coronavirus pandemic and the new administration’s effort to model public health behavior it hopes Americans will adopt.
But presidential inaugurations are also cultural touchstones, and moments to do something with millions of eyeballs watching on television and online. So the Presidential Inaugural Committee arranged a 90-minute musical celebration to mark the day — one that has the side benefit of demonstrating Mr. Biden’s support from a wide array of A-list performers, something former President Donald J. Trump longed for but never received.
“In the last few weeks, in the last few years, we’ve witnessed deep divisions and a troubling rancor in our land,” Tom Hanks, the host of the program said. “But tonight, we ponder the United States of America — the practice of our Democracy.”
The special, which began at 8:30 p.m. and was carried live by the major networks and most cable news stations had a lineup featuring Katy Perry, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jon Bon Jovi, Ant Clemons, Foo Fighters, John Legend, Demi Lovato, Bruce Springsteen and Justin Timberlake, many of whom campaigned for Mr. Biden and, in past campaigns, for former President Barack Obama.
To open the program, Mr. Springsteen greeted Americans and said he was “proud” to be in Washington. Then he began to perform “Land of Hope and Dreams,” which he offered as “a small prayer for our country.”
As has been the custom at big Democratic political events, the celebrities were interspersed with regular Americans. They were set to include an 8-year-old Wisconsin girl who raised $50,000 from a virtual lemonade stand to feed the hungry; a New York nurse who was the first American to receive the coronavirus vaccine; and a Virginia UPS driver beloved by his customers for delivering packages during the pandemic.
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